I Am From 2.0
October 17th 2012
Looking for a way to make classroom research a little more exciting? Try this poetry workshop approach. It’s challenging, creative and involves performance & collaboration. It also aligns to the Common Core’s Anchor Standards through its focus on evidence, meaning, tone and audience.
We are aware that, for many students, the phrase poetry workshop doesn't exactly equate with fun, so we frequently call this a Spoken Word Slam. Only after we're done do we admit to them that they just wrote a poem.
While this form can be used to address almost any content and skills level, this example, taken from the World Savvy’s 2012 “Sustainable Communities” Institute, deals with the pros and cons of product life cycle and helps us get to know a little bit more about things we deal with in our lives and where they come from.
Have you ever seen or done the "I am from" exercise based on the George Ella Lyon poem? Most of you have and every student in your class has done one too. Today we are pleased to introduce "I am from 2.0,” using the template model and slam style to juice up an online research experience. Let's get to it!
Time: 1 to 2 class sessions. 1.5 hours.
Materials: Pens, paper, computers with internet, “I Am From” Worksheet (available at https://worldsavvy.egnyte.com/h-s/20121016/3ae0cdd01ecd40c1)
Note: The outline below reflects one way in which World Savvy uses this technique. We’ve also included some suggestions for alternative applications.
- Ask students to bring an everyday object to class with them. The activity can also work with students simply taking something out of their pockets or backpacks. You can also adjust the exercise by using a more specific prompt (an object that supports economic sustainability, an object that is significant to your family etc.).
- Place the objects on a table and invite students to do a gallery walk, reflecting on what they see.
- Invite students to engage in a brief series of “pair shares” in which they speak to a series of partners about:
- The object they brought in and why
- An object they see that intrigues them
- An object they see that surprised them
Getting to Work:
- Divide students into working groups of three to five. (Students can also work alone or in pairs, although they may be more comfortable with the performance portion in groups.)
- Ask each group to select one of the items on the table to work with on their project
- Assign each group a computer or research station, some paper and a pen or marker and an "I Am From" worksheet.
- Ask groups to use their research skills to fill out the worksheets with the relevant information regarding the objects' origins, path traveled and people encountered. (For some helpful tips on research, check out this great resource from the World Savvy Challenge.)
- Once groups have a worksheet completed, explain that they are now ready to begin the creative part.
- Ask groups to add the phrase "I am from" to the beginning of each line of the worksheet and then read it out loud.
- Based on what they now know about this object, its nature and history, ask the groups to pretend it is a character and come up with the most creative name possible.
- Now ask groups to read the worksheet together again. This time ask them to read it as a poem and then think of things they would change or add to make the poem more powerful. (rhyme, rhythm, imagery, adjectives, alliteration etc)
- Allow participants a few additional minutes to make their poem the strongest they think it can be, so that it tells the story of their character as powerfully as possible. They can change the order of the lines and make any additions they like.
Time to Present:
- Explain to the groups that it is time to start thinking about their performance. Here are some questions to guide their process:
- Will you read the whole poem together in unison?
- Will you take turns reading lines?
- Will you use some combination and have certain words or phrases read or repeated by the whole group?
- Will you use sound effects to help make your point?
- Will you incorporate music or a beat?
- What types of movement will you need to include?
- Ask each group to the share the name of their "character" they came up with and then read the new "I Am From" poem.
- Have listeners take written notes noting especially the visual and sensory details that they imagine while hearing others descriptions.
- Once all the groups have presented, lead a discussion about the exercise:
- What were some of the most powerful lines or images you heard?
- What made them so powerful?
- How does this affect your thinking about the objects you brought into the room?
This is a great way to begin to address sustainability and product life-cycle, but we want to know more about how you would use it.
- How would you change these prompts to use this activity for a math lesson?
- What about a history lesson?
- How might you adapt this for English Language Learners?
Have a great slam!